Another frustrating afternoon for Liverpool’s underperforming stars was summarised by Kenny Dalglish’s decision to withdraw Jordan Henderson and introduce Andy Carroll at half-time, while Stewart Downing was substituted for Jonjo Shelvey in the 70th minute. With the Reds’ expensive acquistions continuing to underperform, the 61-year-old manager needs to hand the club’s young and unproven prospects the chance to impress in the first-team. Shelvey is one such talent who, fresh from a successful loan spell at Blackpool, deserves the chance to partner Steven Gerrard in midfield. Looking further down the ranks, Raheem Sterling is an 18-year-old with a blossoming reputation, while Suso is another youngster rumoured to have a big future at Anfield. With their Europa League participation assured, but Champions League football out of the question for next season, Dalglish would do well to experiment – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s impact at Arsenal highlights the revitalising effect unbridled youthful enthusiasm can bring to a struggling side.
Perhaps it wasn’t quite the attractive Barcelona-type of performance that Roberto Martínez has encouraged his Wigan side to replicate in his three-year reign, but it was an effective display which rightly earned the visitors maximum points. It could be a decisive afternoon in the relegation battle, with Bolton edging to a narrow 2-1 against Blackburn Rovers and QPR suffering a 3-1 defeat by Sunderland. Not many would have envisaged Martínez’s side leaving Anfield with three points, and while there was a touch of fortune about both goals, their luck was merited as Wigan were the much livelier side. Victor Moses’ determination earned the visitors a first-half penalty which Shaun Maloney duly dispatched, and Gary Caldwell was alert from a Wigan free-kick to capitalise on a deflection in the 63rd minute, sealing Wigan’s fourth away win of the season.
Jamie Carragher continues to struggle in the Reds’ defence when Dalglish calls on the veteran defender to deputise for his younger and more nimble team-mates. The vice-captain has been a fantastic servant to the club over the past 16 years, but he no longer has the confidence or the same flawless reading of the game to marshal Liverpool’s back four. He played a part in Wigan’s opener, unable to hold off the attentions of Moses, resulting in Carrahger’s defensive partner Martin Skrtel fouling the Nigerian striker. The 34-year-old featured in Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat by Arsenal three weeks ago, and the former England international was unable to handle the prolific Robin van Persie. Once regarded as one of the Premier League’s best defenders, Carragher faces a fight to stave of a premature, and underwhelming end to his career.
Much negativity has surrounded Liverpool in recent weeks following a poor run of results but one positive remains the blossoming partnership between Gerrard and Luis Suárez. The Liverpool captain had previously heaped praise on his former team-mate Fernando Torres, insisting it’s easy to develop an understanding with world class players, and the 31-year-old certainly has begun a fruitful relationship with Liverpool’s Uruguayan striker. The pair combined twice to help Gerrard net a hat-trick against Everton – and it was their creativity which helped level against Wigan. Suárez intercepted a careless Wigan pass on the edge of the visitors’ area, played it wide to Gerrard, and the Reds skipper timed his return pass to perfection, allowing Suárez to guide the ball into the left corner of the net.
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